After just a three-week break in action, the Pirelli GT3 Cup Trophy USA Series returns to Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca for its second double-header in a month’s time. This weekend, the event is held in conjunction with the SCCA Double Regionals with Race 7 set for Saturday afternoon and Race 8 on Sunday afternoon.
The Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca event three weeks ago saw a large Pirelli Cup field of nearly 40 cars that put on a spectacular show around the 2.238-mile California road course. That same level of competition can be expected again this weekend as the all-Porsche series sets the stage for Round 4 of the 2016 championship.
And with recent experience and a lot of data to work with, teams will take the lessons learned from the previous event and apply it this weekend.
A familiar name once again leads the way in the Diamond category with Robert Todd of the hometown BR Racing team leading the championship after sweeping the weekend with a double-victory at the previous Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca event.
“We had done a lot of testing prior to the start of the season, and learned a lot about the car and the finer setup points,” said Todd. “So far, that has created a foundation of confidence in the car and the ability to manage the car and Pirelli tires well for both qualifying and race conditions. We know the competition has been out testing, and we expect several to be quicker than they were at the last event. At the same time, we have also been tweaking some elements, and we again feel good about our chances so our approach is much the same. With the points lead we now have, the pressure is actually less, which allows us to let the event come to us, rather than us having to make the event something it might or might not be. We believe our competition will come from Jason (Godfrey), Dino (Crescentini), and David Calvert-Jones—it should be awesome!”
The competition in the Diamond category is tight with TruSpeed Autosport’s Jason Godfrey and Air Power Racing’s Desire Wilson also putting in strong showings in the previous Pirelli Cup USA event. With several impressive entries returning in the Diamond division for Round 4, the competition will be fierce.
For the fourth straight event, TruSpeed Autosport’s Tom Haacker enters the weekend at the top of the Platinum standings.
“Running back-to-back is an advantage over those who didn’t compete at the previous Laguna event,” said Haacker. “Seat time is the most important factor. This weekend’s event has less track time for practice also, so having the seat time at the same venue a few weeks apart is very valuable. Phil Fogg will be joining Team TruSpeed for this weekend’s event, and he should be pretty quick out there. He could throw my ‘extra seat time’ thoughts aside. Looks like we have an exciting weekend of racing ahead!”
The Platinum Masters class has seen some intense competition between its Porsche GT3 racers with a healthy amount of position swapping among the field in the previous round.
Robert Rodriguez took top honors in Race 5 with Ray Shahi of TruSpeed Autosport second and Joe Sposato third. In Race 5, Sposato took the victory and Rodriguez and Shahi rounded out the podium.
Larry Schnur placed fifth in Race 5 and sixth in Race 6 and continues to hold the championship lead heading into this weekend’s double-header.
“As this is my first full season in the Porsche GT3 Cup Car, every event is a learning experience,” said Schnur. “Even though I’ve raced at Mazda Raceway many times before, both in cars and on motorcycles, getting the most out of the GT3 is still a challenge. Coming back to Laguna Seca so soon is a great opportunity to build on the progress we made at the last event.”
Similarly, the all-new 2016 GT4 ClubSport class has been ultracompetitive through the first three rounds of the Pirelli GT3 Cup Trophy USA Championship.
David Donohue, who joined Pirelli Cup USA for the first time three weeks ago, claimed victory at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in Race 5 with BR Racing’s Kevin Woods and Competition Motorsports’ John Horejsi also on the podium.
In Race 6, the top-two were reversed with Woods taking the victory and Donohue finishing runner-up. Championship leader Sean McAlister of Competition Motorsports finished third.
“Having just raced there, the track is going to be fresh on the mind, and it won’t take as long to get up to speed as it would be if we were going to an entirely new track,” said McAlister, who only just began racing cars at the Pirelli Cup season-opener in March. “This weekend I’ll be working on maintaining my focus. I’m expecting to perform better than I did last time and hopefully be more consistent.”
Competition Motorsport’s Steve Goldman has been the class of the field in the Silver Masters category with a 61-point advantage in the championship standings.
“It is a great opportunity for our drivers to come back to Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca relatively soon since our last race there,” said Pirelli GT3 Trophy USA President Greg Franz. “It was a great event and we are looking forward to another competitive weekend with a great entry list. We are proud to be celebrating our 10th anniversary season and everyone is looking forward to getting back together and racing again this weekend.”
The weekend kicks off on Friday with two practice sessions. Saturday and Sunday will each open with practice, followed by qualifying and the race.
Friday, June 3, 2016
10:55 AM – 11:30 AM Pirelli GT3 Cup Trophy USA Practice
2:10 PM – 2:45 PM Pirelli GT3 Cup Trophy USA Practice
Saturday, June 4, 2016
10:30 AM – 10:50 AM Pirelli GT3 Cup Trophy USA Practice
12:25 PM – 12:55 PM Pirelli GT3 Cup Trophy USA Qualifying
1:50 PM – 2:30 PM Pirelli GT3 Cup Trophy USA Race 7
Sunday, June 5, 2016
11:00 AM – 11:20 AM Pirelli GT3 Cup Trophy USA Practice
11:35 AM – 12:05 PM Pirelli GT3 Cup Trophy USA Qualifying
1:50 PM – 2:30 PM Pirelli GT3 Cup Trophy USA Race 8
Source. Sunday Group